Model Wants To Be First Woman With Down’s Syndrome In Sports Illustrated Magazine

by : Julia Banim on : 23 Mar 2021 14:54
Model Wants To Be First Woman With Down's Syndrome In Sports Illustrated Magazinemikholmgren_inspiring_others/Instagram

A model from Minnesota is hoping to become the very first woman with Down’s syndrome to be featured in Sports Illustrated Magazine’s iconic Swimsuit Issue.

26-year-old Mikayla Holmgren has already made history after becoming the first contestant with Down’s syndrome to appear in a Miss USA pageant.


Mikayla competed in the pageant back in 2017 where she achieved great success, taking home both the Spirit of Miss USA and the Director’s awards. Now she has her sights set on a new trail-blazing milestone.

Find out more about Mikayla in the following news report:


Writing about her bid on her popular Instagram account, Mikayla explained her motivations for auditioning:


Everyone is talking about inclusion right now and one of the most underrepresented groups is people with special needs. I would love to be the beacon of hope for so many young girls who can relate to me.

Speaking in her audition tape, Mikayla praised the Swimsuit Issue for being ‘such a champion in the diversity of beauty’, adding, ‘now is the time to include someone like me’.

She continued:

All women deserve to be celebrated. We need awareness for those with special needs.


In another Instagram post, Mikayla celebrated finishing up her audition tape with the following message:

And that’s a wrap! I felt so accomplished when we finished the filming of my @si_swimsearch casting tape!

We hear a lot about inclusion these days and I would love to be invited to that conversation as a woman with #DownSyndrome as ALL women deserve to be celebrated!


In recent years, Sports Illustrated has been focused on celebrating diverse beauty within its famed Swimsuit Issue.

Last year, model Valentina Sampaio became the very first transgender model to be featured in the issue, while plus-sized model Hunter McGrady graced the pages of the 2019 shoot.

The 2019 edition also made history by featuring Halima Aden, the first swimsuit model to be photographed wearing a hijab and burkini.

Last week, Leyna Bloom made history by becoming the first trans woman of colour to model for Sports Illustrated.


For now, Mikayla is still waiting to hear back about her own audition tape, and has told People magazine that she has her ‘fingers crossed’.

The very best of luck to the brilliant Mikayla Holmgren as she continues to pave the way for women with Down’s syndrome.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Life, Down's Syndrome, Model, Now


FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul/YouTube and 2 others
  1. FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul/YouTube

    Mikayla Holmgren hopes to be 1st woman with Down Syndrome in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue

  2. Mikayla Holmgren/Instagram


  3. People

    26-Year-Old Hopes to Be First Woman with Down Syndrome in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue